A Year of Community Brainstorming

[Cross-posted on the Bread for the City blog]

With high levels of food insecurity, disparities in access to food across the city, and 13 different city agencies playing a role in shaping our local food system, a group of advocates and service providers has proposed the formation of a food policy council with the intention of improving DC’s fragmented food system. One of the approaches we’ve taken is something we’re calling “Community Brainstorms.”

We came up with the brainstorm sessions idea because those most affected by the failures of our current food system are those that tend to be left out of the decision-making process. Right now our meetings are primarily composed of staff of organizations. Those organizations are diverse — from direct service to urban farms to labor rights coalitions — but we’re still mostly working with staff paid to participate. We want to change that.

At first we considered a city-wide survey, but community brainstorms will better allow us to build relationships with people and organizations who want to take action to build a food system we are proud of. Also, the more open-ended and free-form conversations allow all ideas to come out, where they might have not in a standard form.

The three main goals of holding these two hour community brainstorm sessions are:

  1. To introduce a “food systems” perspective on issues like food insecurity, hunger, and obesity, and the idea of a food policy council as a way of tackling them.
  2. To solicit input from a wide range of people, in particular those most impacted by the challenges in our current food system, in order to shape the formation of a leadership body.
  3. To recruit volunteers and get more people involved.

This spring we are planning to hold two community brainstorms at Bread for the City, as well as several more in partnership with Groundwork Anacostia and other organizations. We are always looking for more partners to host these sessions (and individuals to participate as community members or volunteers).

If you can’t participate in a community brainstorm, you can still share your story of food. In the last year, we’ve published everything from the story of an urban gardener to a former Bread for the City intern. These are important pieces to the puzzle of figuring out what our food system looks like and how it affects peoples’ lives. Share your own traditions, memories, hopes, and dreams related to DC’s food system at Bread for the City’s story bank.

Please contact Angie Stackhouse (astackhouse(at)breadforthecity.org) for more information, to get involved, or to share your story.

Written by Angie Stackhouse

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